Christopher Rainham


Near the Bare Poplar’s Tip (2020), 50 x 70cm, acrylic on canvas.  Image courtesy Jules Lister

Obstruction given by Parham Ghalamdar 

Christopher Rainham:


I was quite happy with my Obstruction.

I thought that it would be hard for Parham as he didn’t know my work. Our initial discussion went well and I wasn’t worried by what he suggested, I was glad it was painting, even though it was to be in oils and I hadn’t used them for 25 years. I hoped that I would still know my way around them.

When I got the document I was surprised to find it wasn’t an obstruction but rather a list of obstructions or rather instructions, a step by step method to create a painting very much outside my usual working practice.

I was distressed to read that he wanted me to use a Caravaggio painting as the starting point for the painting, an artist I would never have chosen. Thankfully it was only for the composition and coincidentally I had come across an old drawing in a Sketchbook from 1991 of Caravaggio’s burial of Saint Lucy and so I decided to use this. I thought I had made the drawing after my father’s death thinking about a children’s book but this drawing was three years too early.

So off I went, drawing a simplified composition and substituting the elements of the Caravaggio for the things that my current work is about.

Saint Lucy’s body becomes a hill of chalk like Silbury Hill, the mourners a line of trees and the grave diggers and attendant figures various stones and hag stones, as in lots of my work creatures and objects tend to wander into the picture form a variety of sources, a thrush from the original image stands in the shadow of an opening.

I love the material quality of the oil paint but have found the extended waiting for elements to dry frustrating. This has had an impact on my development of the painting forcing me to reconsider ideas that had I been working in acrylic I would have ploughed on with.

Looking at representations of Saint Lucy in Renaissance art she is associated with eyes in some form with various stories of either self-mutilation or torture.

I wanted to include some eyes somewhere and was reminded of the tin prosthetics produced after the First World War for injured soldiers.

The hardest part of my obstruction has been to include some crudely painted parts, I suppose that as my main practice is to create work for sale in commercial galleries that a certain ‘finish’ is required that is difficult to move away from.

I have tried drawing some elements with an oil bar to vary the rendering of the objects in my painting.

Instagram @rainhamchristopher


 Install images by Jules Lister

Where the Soft Mosses Grow (2020)

Image courtesy Jules Lister

Near the Bare Poplar’s Tip (2020)

Image courtesy Jules Lister

An Egg and a Stone (in the same bag) (2020). 

Image courtesy Jules Lister